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Happy anniversary: Yoshida named Ballet principal artist

Culture

Japanese ballerina Neneka Yoshida has been promoted to principal artist for the Queensland Ballet, with her appointment drawing a standing ovation during the weekend’s performance of the company’s 60th Anniversary Gala.

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As the company took its final curtain call following a performance of Études, Artistic Director Li Cunxin AO took to the stage to make the announcement.

“Over the last 7 years that Neneka has danced with our Company, she has matured into a phenomenal dancer and demonstrated incredible dedication to our art form,” said Cunxin.

“The professionalism and artistry she has demonstrated over the years has been truly exceptional, and I am honoured to give her this promotion.”

Yoshida was greeted with a standing ovation onstage with her colleagues.

“It was an absolute honour to receive this promotion and I am eternally grateful to Li and Queensland Ballet for providing me with the opportunity to do what I love every day,” said Yoshida.

Neneka Yoshida in an excerpt from Don Quixote, 60th Anniversary Gala. (Image: David Kelly)

Originally from Kanazawa, Japan, Yoshida began to practice the art at age three, moving to Paris at 15 to begin professional training with Dominique Khalfouni.

Having performed internationally all over the world, Yoshida moved to Australia in 2014 and joined the ranks of the Queensland Ballet as a Jette Parker Young Artist.

She has experienced a meteoric rise through the ranks at Queensland Ballet, promoted from her previous position as Senior Soloist.

Yoshida said she had always strived to succeed on her own terms.

“You can learn from watching other beautiful dancers but try to never compare yourself. We all have different physical abilities and strengths, and it is important to know yourself well and be confident with what you have,” she said.

Yoshida centre stage during Saturday’s performance. (Image: David Kelly)

Following a turbulent year for the arts, Yoshida has moved from strength to strength, in a testament to her dedication.

She said during periods of isolation and the closure of physical rehearsal space in 2020, she refined her foundational skills, returning to the core of her ballet technique.

Yoshida said at the time of lockdown, she believed she would return to the studio with a stronger technical foundation, and more passion to perform.

In her new role, Yoshida will join fellow Principal Artists Lucy Green, Yanela Piñera, Victor Estévez and Camilo Ramos.

“I get to work with so many wonderful and passionate people at Queensland Ballet,” said Yoshida.

“I am excited to continue to grow and develop as a Principal Artist and will always strive to be the best I can be to delight audiences in 2021.”

The 60th Anniversary Gala runs until March 20 at The Playhouse, Queensland Performing Arts Centre. For more information, visit the Queensland Ballet’s website. 

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